Potato Gateau | Gattò | Italian savory potato cake

There are moments I so miss my mother  presenting one of her meals with that special look in her eyes. She had it when she knew she had made something really delicious. She would never compliment herself though, she was too modest for it.
She would simply mention offhandedly “è molto condito” meaning “it’s rich”. Then we knew she liked it.
And even if rich, her food was balanced. Always cooked to perfection with no ingredient dominating the others, a marriage of quality and skills.
In my life I have had the opportunity to travel the world and taste all sorts of delicacies. Nevertheless, she is still my absolute measure. I don’t need to make sophisticated dishes. If I can make a simple home recipe like she did, then I have achieved something. Her gateau was the best.
The gateau is a potato savory pie of Neapolitan and Sicilian tradition. Just like sartu, the potato gateau is a dish developed in the XVII century by French cooks employed at the Bourbons court in Naples .
For me it’s family food through and through. It has a smell of togetherness which brings me back to childhood and happy summer dinners . You only need a salad or grilled vegetables with it and may be a handful of cherries as a dessert.
A perfect easy Italian meal.
Italian potato pie with grilled vegetables

  • 1.5 kg (3 lb) potatoes, preferably new.
  • 60 gr ( 2 oz) grated Parmesan
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper to taste
  • 250 gr (9 oz) mild cheese (e.g. caciotta), sliced
  • 120 gr (4 oz) cooked ham
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoon butter
  • 2 tablespoon bread crumbs or gluten-free equivalent

Place potatoes  in a pan of salted water, bring to the boil and cook until tender. Drain, then mash the potatoes. Use preferably a mouli or potato ricer to obtain a soft and airy mash. Mix with the eggs, grated Parmesan, salt and pepper and a couple of tablespoon olive oil.
Preheat oven at 180 °C / 350 °F.
Butter generously a 10 inch wide ovenproof dish and dust it with breadcrumbs. Line the dish with a 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick layer of potato mash. You need to make sure that the potato layer is compact enough on the sides so that it will hold the filling. Layer half of the cheese and ham on the bottom of the potato shell. Add an additional 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick layer potato mash over it. Add the rest of ham and cheese and top with the rest of the potato. Dust the top with breadcrumbs, a good sprinkle of grated Parmesan and a few curls of butter.
Bake for 30 min until slightly golden. Allow to rest for at least 10 min before serving.
Serves 6 as a meal, 8 as an appetizer.
PS. You can make the potato pie easily vegetarian by substituting the ham with chopped blanched spinach which you have quickly saute in olive oil and garlic to dry them and infuse with extra flavor.


  1. Letizia, this sounds wonderful–something my family would really like. I’ll let you know when I make it. Thanks!

  2. I’m so excited to have this recipe! Just the picture makes me drool. I’m in Sicily, and am wondering if I can use a caciocavallo non stagionata in place of caciotta. Also, what kind of cooked ham would you buy in Italy (i.e. what would it be called)? Mille grazie!

    • Hi Jann, caciocavallo fresco is definitely ideal for the gateau, even better than caciotta. As for prosciutto cotto, I buy the roasted one rather than the boiled one. I buy from the Coop the fior-fiore brand which is of good quality.

  3. Letizia – another winner that I will look forward to making. And your wonderful story to go along with the story only makes it better. Thank you for sharing!

  4. Yes, yes, yes, my Sicilian Bedda Mammina (“sweet little Mamma”) used to make this wonderful potato dish you’ve presented, it was one of the few recipes I sadly didn’t record. For years I’ve done a good job when trying to replicate it but there was one key element I knew was being forgotten, but your recipe pointed the way back to my mother’s recipe being; YES, she used cooked ham!!! How did I forget such a wonderful key ingredient??!!!! Grazie, grazie, grazie!!!
    Tonight to celebrate my 70th(!!!!!!) birthday myself and sixteen friends of all ages met up at a local Chinese restaurant where we ordered 23 entrees (hours and hours of happy gab ‘n’ food), some people in this world eat to live, happily all my friends live to eat…. Must go now, I have to plan tomorrow’s dinner of Sicilian pasta with veggies, minestrina di pollo con pastina (light chicken broth with small cubes of chicken and tiny pasta), condiglione (a Genovese salad with about a dozen ingredients), focaccia Calabrese made with pork cracklings with Romano cheese and half a dozen glasses of Brioschi antacid fizz…. Thank you for your wonderful site and spot-on recipes, tutto e’ a posto!!!!

    • Hi Gianni
      thank you ever so much for your wonderful comments. I so love to hear stories of family gastronomic traditions. I so often think that I don’t need to go out to find recipes, I just need to find them back in my memories. I wish you the best of birthdays and lots of happiness with your cooking, your friends are very fortunate!

  5. Hi Letizia,
    At what temperature should this be baked? I’m guessing 350. Sounds wonderful.

  6. Oh, this is delicious. Thank you from British Columbia on the first day of autumn. It’s a rainy evening, but we are very content with warm tummies.

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